TRIPLE SONNET FOR LEAVING MY COUNTRY OF BIRTH, BY RACHAEL LIN WHEELER
after Dorothy Chan
Night, and every shadow ruptures—folds
into the corners of the darkest garden.
In times like this, I think of how a rabbit’s
birth is called a kindling. Brief,
the light: unwound then coiled. Let it strike
each paw print in the empty field of snow.
The mother’s scent: a predatory call
her daughters will be killed by—if not left
behind. And yet, these young, alone, are born both
deaf and blind. Crepuscular, the vanish
-ing point. The doe: an imprint of her newborn’s
slow-burn cry—which is to say, my mouth
lies full of tinder. Grief as burnt ash
kissing a palm meant for holding nothing.
Palmar’s reflex—a desire to hold—means nothing
more than womb-song emptied of its hum.
I am nothing more than moon vine climbing
skyward like a prayer for every pyre
moments before its ignition. Mother, an echo.
Mother, the matchsticks. Let her be the shadow
of my name, forgotten in the wasteland.
I’ve seen it before: even flames of candles,
dependent on their wicks, attempt to run
from their origin, despite. How else
can they survive? I do not want to kill
the ghosts roving through the valleys of
her distant body—blood so similar
to mine—that I, splintered, have never met.
A mine will splinter what it meets: will halve
a bed of animal bones beneath the earth,
their dead flesh burning waxen in the dirt.
Above, the flower carcasses, un-
blooming. Upturned garden buried by the snow
and wreckage. To loose an early memory
from its own grave’s a gentle gift. A haunting.
A touch. I’ll detonate. I’ll excavate
each scrap of the remains. O, rusted mirror,
window turned opaque. The woman’s ghost,
my own. I want to fist each absence from
its husk. To learn the texture of her voice,
of resurrection. From my mouth, language
ruptures and I fold into this night—
Rachael Lin Wheeler will attend Washington University in St. Louis as a Howard Nemerov Writing Scholar and is a 2021 Adroit Journal Summer mentee. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Ghost City Review, Hominum Journal, Plum Recruit Mag, FERAL: A Journal of Poetry and Art, and SOFTBLOW, and others. Serving as the editorial assistant for EX/POST MAGAZINE, Rachael Lin is also the founder and editor of Vox Viola Literary Magazine. She can be found on Twitter @rachaellin_ or at rachaellinwheeler.com.